Today is my son’s tenth birthday. I cannot believe it! It’s gone by so fast. Is it because we had our son later in life? My wife and I were in our mid 40s. And because of that, it feels faster? While I cannot compare having a child in my 20s or 30s, I can say it definitely has gone fast.
I am fond of saying, “Every year my son gets older, I get old.” Don’t worry that doesn’t bother me in the least. I am loving “mid-life fathering.” In fact, I cannot imagine it any other way. Being way too selfish and caught up in my own “stuff,” there is no way in hell I would have been ready. It wasn’t until I got all of what I wanted to do out of the way and setting down roots, in of all places Japan, that I was ready to have a child. I cannot speak for my wife, but I think she feels the same way.
Of course carrying a watermelon size package inside you for nine months and then figuring how to get it out in the light of day is a helluva lot more work for my wife than me. Add to that all kinds of worries and potential complications carrying and giving birth at forty-five, I will forever be grateful to her.
Presenting to the world ten years ago today, February 15th at 9:46 in the morning, (six minutes from the time I am writing this) a beautiful boy we named Luke. Naming this bundle of joy came easy. Even though my wife is Japanese, thinking she would prefer a traditional Japanese first name, she came up with Luke. My contribution? If it were a girl we would have called her “Lilly.”
This feller changed our lives forever in more ways than I could have imagined. All of it amazing, some of it without its challenges. Confronting my own cultural expectations and child-rearing based on my own experiences being raised in a culturally different place than Japan made for a trying first few years. All sorted out, I am a better person for it.
There are many unforeseen gifts Luke has given along the way. Unconditional love being at the top. We don’t have to be doing anything in particular when we are together. I just enjoy being in his presence. Although we do many things together, lately skiing, dual masters card games, monopoly or just hanging out watching YouTube episodes of “Dude Perfect.”
He is coming into his own as an individual with a character not unlike his father, sorry mom, he may be a handful in his teens. I am looking forward to seeing how it all manifests for him in the future.
Living in Japan can be a challenge if you are not willing to learn the language and pay attention and adjust to the social mores. For many it can be a very lonely isolating place as a foreigner. Luke coming into my world has had the opposite affect by expanding it. With his interest in soccer I took to co-coaching his team for a few years and have become friends with many of his teammate’s parents. It’s not uncommon while walking down the street in our neighborhood when off in the distance I will hear a “Ohayo gozaimasu Aren coachi” translated as, “Good morning coach Allen.” No longer coaching I am still coach.
I feel a part of the community in a culture where many people feel it is closed off to foreigners. I can only hope to give back even a little of what Luke has given me when he made his presence in this world ten years ago today.